With food prices always rising, families are always trying to save as much as possible at the supermarket cash register, especially before Easter and holidays that involve big meals and lots of entertaining. In the UK, the average family spends more than £85 a week on food. Sometimes, the most obvious tips will save you the most money. Here are 21 tips to save money next time you’re at the supermarket:
1. Middle of the road
For staple products like flour, sugar, rice and salt, try to buy mid-range products – neither the cheapest nor the most expensive. However, for throwaway items like paper products, the cheaper the better – these products don’t need to last a long time and are made for immediate disposal.
2. No package
Try to avoid, as much as possible, buying prepackaged produce, like prepared salads. Fresh vegetables, fruit and meat from the butcher’s counter will be cheaper than anything pre-washed or pre-packaged in the fresh aisles. Avoid buying pre-made meals in the supermarket; although they save you time, they are far more expensive than what it would cost you to prepare them yourself.
3. Buy supermarket-brand
A certain taboo surrounds supermarkets’ self-branded products. Don’t be afraid to try them, especially when it comes to frozen items. Some of these products come from the exact same processing plants and are often of comparable quality to name brands, and much cheaper. This goes for food as well as detergents, soaps and paper towels. You could save tens of pounds by just switching a few products in your cart.
4. Don’t forget
Keep checking how much you’re spending while shopping, so as not to be embarrassed at the checkout, when you’ve gone over budget.
5. Compare supermarkets
It’s worth checking a few supermarkets in your area in terms of quality and price. You might be surprised at the differences in prices among different brands within the same neighborhood!
6. Check again
Big brand stores can change prices on items on a daily basis. So, although a particular item was cheap last week, make sure you double-check before buying it blindly. Also, if you are checking prices online or special offers in a newspaper advertisement, double-check them when you get to the store – they might already be expired.
7. Go full
One of the best tips you can get is to eat something before going to the supermarket – an empty stomach will lead you to buy lots of unnecessary items simply because you’re hungry.
8. Look for specials
Don’t just pass by all the bins in the supermarket; there are often good deals on products you already use.
9. Avoid convenience
In general, never buy staple products form a convenience store or gas station market. Their prices are always inflated and take advantage of people in last-minute situations.
10. Buy in bulk
Make the most of buying in bulk. For example, if onions are on offer, cook with them a lot in the following week. Whatever is left over can be frozen for later.
11. Bring a list
Compiling a weekly menu and relevant shopping list before heading to the supermarket will save you a lot of money. When planning, figure out how to use one product in several ways throughout the week, thus avoiding waste and extra expense. Also, make sure to check what you have in your kitchen to avoid doubling up.
Be wary and think twice when you discover buy-one-get-one-free offers. While they might be tempting, it’s not a savings unless you already need the product.
13. No squeeze
A product is sometimes more expensive when it’s sold in a plastic, squeeze bottle, than when in glass.
14. Check price per weight
When buying prepackaged produce, checking the price per pound or kilogram will help you know you’re getting the best deal.
15. Shop online
Stores often make special offers and prices available online and not in store. Check your favorite supermarket’s website before leaving home.
16. No leftovers
If leftovers form meals won’t be eaten the next day, reuse them in different dishes or freeze them for later. Try and throw out as little as possible. Leftover bread, for example, can be made into homemade breadcrumbs for salad or fried chicken.
17. Avoid snack packs
Companies make extra money by packaging things in small sizes. When you buy any kind of snack pack or smaller size, you are paying more for packaging and getting less product. Instead, buy large sizes and use plastic containers at home to store food for later use.
We’ve all had that experience of buying ingredients for a single dish and realizing how much it can cost. From now on, when buying any foodstuff – spice, fruit, vegetable or ingredient – have more than one use in mind. Use it as a main dish tonight, and a side dish tomorrow night.
Don’t be afraid to try new products that are being offered on sale at your local market. You never know when you’ll discover your new favorite item.
20. Don’t fear expiration
Just because a particular product has reached its expiration date doesn’t mean that it is inedible. It can often still be eaten or cooked and then frozen for later use.
21. Coupon culture
Coupons seem to hail from your grandmother’s age. However, they often give good discounts, so don’t be afraid to check coupon circulars and handouts.